BURNLEY boss Eddie Howe believes Cameron Howieson’s international and Olympic dreams could edge the youngster closer to domestic bliss.
It’s been a cyclonic few months for the 17-year-old New Zealander for both club and country since appearing in the fiercely contested FA Youth Cup semi-final clash against rivals Blackburn Rovers, the first time the club had progressed to that stage in 34 years.
After making his senior debut towards the end of his first-year scholarship, coming off the bench against Birmingham in April and becoming the youngest ever Kiwi to feature in the Football League, the attacking midfielder signed professional terms at Turf Moor.
He was then called up to his nation’s full squad for exhibition matches and World Cup qualifying games before earning his first international cap, appearing as a second half substitute in a 2-2 draw with El Salvador in Houston in May.
Howieson went on to play against Honduras in Dallas and made an appearance in the 2012 OFC Nations Cup victory over Soloman Islands before being named in the New Zealand squad for London 2012.
The teenager was set to feature for the Oly Whites, the name given to the Under 23 team, yesterday as they kicked off their Olympic campaign with a Group C match against Belarus at the City of Coventry Stadium.
“I’m really pleased for him this summer and I can’t wait to see him come back and see how he’s moved on and see how he’s developed,” said Howe.
“I’m sure this summer’s experiences have been invaluable for him, I’m sure it’s improved his game and brought his game on so we’re looking forward to seeing him.
“It’s a great experience for any young footballer, any young sportsman, to be mixing with the athletes that are there.
“It will be great for him.
“I’m going to try to catch a game, definitely.
“I know football (in the Olympics) is viewed quite cynically in this country but I think if you’re participating in the event I think it’s something very special, and I’m delighted for him.
“I think it will be something he looks back on with fond memories and I’m sure it’s brought him closer to our first team.”
Howe added: “The games that he’s got and the games that he’s had already, they are great experiences for him.
“Something that we’ll hopefully benefit from.
“It’s going to make him grow up pretty quickly. He’s already played in front of some big crowds and in some pressure situations and sometimes with young players that’s the doubt you have – can they handle these occasions? I’m sure all these experiences added up will make him much better prepared for our first team and the pressure situations that he may find himself in next year.”
New Zealand, who have only ever scored one goal at the Games, scored by Jeremy Brockie four years ago against China PR, then travel to Old Trafford, where they will take on Egypt on Sunday with kick-off at noon, before completing the group stages against Brazil at Newcastle’s St James’ Park next Wednesday.